The Big Blow

We made it to Albemarle Plantation Marina in time to get settled before some weather was going to move in. We had hoped to do another town or two on the Albemarle, but we couldn’t be sure there would be enough good weather to get to the town, Edenton, and then back to Albemarle Plantation before it was time for Brenda to fly home for her mom’s surgery. So straight to Albemarle Plantation we went.

The weather apps were correct. We got a big wind.

The 42 knot wind gusts ( that’s 48 mph) were intense. Orange is bad. Purplish is worse.

The dockmaster said this wind event was worse than any of the hurricanes that had passed through the area in the eight years he has been there. That’s because the 14+ hours of winds were from the south, and that is the one direction that is open to the main body of Albemarle Sound. In other words, no protection provided by adjoining land.

Around noon on April 11, we noticed the boat was moving quite a bit in the slip. The boats around us were like-wise bouncing around.

We originally had the lines tied to the cleat at the end of the dock, but the pressure of the slackening and tightening was too much, and the end of the dock pulled up. Fortunately, that swim ladder on the end of the dock caught through the 2×10 beams and didn’t let the end of the dock come flying over to the boat.

12:37 pm. Lance out in the wind securing the broken dock so it wouldn’t pull loose. This is a still picture but the broken piece was going up and down, and the line behind his leg, the one around the piling, was going up and down. Note the line going from the forward piling back to the dock cleat. We put this to better use later.

This next video is around 2pm. Still not the worst of it, but bad enough to see some of what is going on. Note how the lines slacken and pull with each wave. A danger would be if the lines break.

Originally, we had only one line going from the bow of the boat to the forward piling. The wind was too strong to try to lassoo the piling throwing into the wind. What to do? There had been a line from the forward piling to the dock cleat that was at the slip when we arrived. We ended up cutting that line at the dock cleat and moving the cut end up to the forward boat cleat. That made two lines around that forward piling, back to the forward boat cleat, which was a safety net in case one of the lines broke. If you look carefully, you can see the cut end near the dock cleat in the video.

Don’t worry. We replaced the line that we cut before leaving the marina. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Lesson learned. Put double lines on BEFORE the projected wind starts!

At a certain point, at several certain points, in fact, we looked at each other and said, “Well, we’ve done what we can. I don’t think there is any more we can do.” And then we would think of something else we could do. Another fender. Cinching the dinghy up tighter. Another line.

I think we used every line on the boat and a few that were not meant for dock lines. At one point Lance got out the extra 150′ of rope rode for the spare anchor and used the first 20′ or so to put another line around the mid-ship piling. The rode had a lot of elasticity and helped calm the jerking around.

5:47 pm. The broken dock piece was moving too much to risk getting fingers caught in lines if we tried to untie the dock cleat. Once we noticed the ladder coming apart and Lance had to go out and truss it up.

It was too jerky to stand and was risky to move around the boat. I made a comment while seated on the couch, “I’d rather have this motion on a boat than an airplane!” (Then, coincidentally, I was on a very turbulent flight on the way home that felt a whole lot like the boat. I didn’t like it on the plane, either.)

It went on like that for hours. The worst was between 10pm and midnight. After dark, when I couldn’t see outside, I started getting a bit queasy with all the bumping and jerking, but it never got to the point of seasickness.

Dock staff came around several times to make sure we (and the other boats) were ok. We just waved and gave the thumbs up from the boat as it would have been unsafe to try to get off the boat, onto the dock.

After dark, I got a notification from the Nebo app that our batteries were low. This clued us in to the fact that one of the charging cords had come undone where two cords plug together. We were able to fish it out of the water and on to the boat to dry out. It was the cord that ran the battery charger. We still had power to half of the boat’s electrical system…some electrical outlets, our water heater, and the microwave, but not the battery charging system. We just went on power management mode for our DC usage, putting the refrigerator on nighttime mode and turning off unnecessary lights.

The consensus was that the winds were worse than predicted. And the gust speeds were pretty consistent. So 42 knot winds and the swells and waves that go with that.

About mid-night, I lay down on the bed, fully clothed in case we needed to leave in the middle of the night. We had the pfds in easy reach on the route out of the boat.

It was about 2 am when the wind shifted and died enough for Lance to feel comfortable coming to bed.

In the morning we assessed the damage. It was minimal. One fender was missing. An oar on our dinghy had broken from being banged and wedged against the dock. The dinghy motor had a few scratches in it from rubbing on something. That’s about it.

The cleats on the boat all held tight, which kept us safe. No lines snapped.

When the dockmaster was making his rounds in the morning to make sure everything was OK, I noticed he had a big black fender in the back of his golf cart. Our missing fender! Yay!

When we were in the midst of it all, it was uncomfortable and felt dangerous, but looking around, I could see all the other boats bobbing away like we were. None of them were sinking and I figured we wouldn’t sink either. Maybe there would be some property damage, but likely nothing life threatening. As long as the lines and the boat’s cleats held, we would be OK. And we were.

One Reply to “The Big Blow”

  1. I didn’t like wind when I lived in a house and I like it even less now. I’m glad you came through it relatively unscathed.

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